Web Accessibility – How it Effects Your Websites and What to Do About It
What is “Web Accessibility?”
“Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of making websites usable by people of all abilities and disabilities.” -Wikipedia
Really no other way to put it. Web accessibility deals with the various practices and strategies that enable users with disabilities to easily access your website.
There are many kinds of disabilities that effect people who browse the web – many of which are more common than you’d expect. While most people go straight to the extreme of blindness or being unable to use their hands, many things as simple as poor eyesight, color blindness, or even hearing impairment.
A well built website is constructed in such a way so no matter the disability, it can be easily read and explored.
What Does it Mean for My Website?
This means you, or your web designer needs to be intimately familiar with the types of disabilities people browse the web with. Some people say “It’s just a small percent of the population, making it easy for them to browse my website isn’t worth it.” However, that’s a dangerous mindset as more people deal with various disabilities than most people think.
For example, 7-10% of all males are red-green color blind. That means 1 out of 10 males who visit your website may not be able to read your content if it is designed poorly. Or even people with poor vision may be unable to browse your site.
These numbers are not to be trifled at. Ignoring these visitors will greatly decrease the effectiveness and overall reach of your website.
What Can I Do About It?
The great news is that most well buit websites already have the majority of the legwork done for having an accessible website. If your website follows proper semantics, you’re most of the way there. Many good web techniques, like strong SEO, already encompass an accessible website. And this works both ways. By making your site more accessible, you’re increasing the SEO value, load speed, browser compatibility, and more.
As this is such a complex topic, we can’t cover everything here. We may have some follow up articles, but in the meantime we’ll give you some reading material, tools, and tips to get you started.
Treehouse has an excellent (free) short series covering Web Accessibility. They go over in detail the various forms of disabilities that could effect web browsing and provide several techniques to make your site more accessible. Check it out!
Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
The Web Accessibility Initiative, brought to us by the W3C, has a list of standards to adhere to for ensuring full accessibility.
Check Your Site for Visual Impairments
Spur allows you to view your website through various filters. Including in greyscale for color blindness and poor vision.
Web Accessibility Quick Tips
- Have high contrast for color blind visitors
- Use a large font size for people with poor vision
- If you have videos on your website, use closed captioning
- Include a hidden “skip to content” link at the top of the header for screen readers
- Have an easy to navigate menu structure
- Use alt text on all of your images
- Use plain text rather than images when possible
- Use links when you mention a different page
Web accessibility is not something that should be ignored for any website of any site. An accessible website gives you many benefits even aside from easy to browse, including strong SEO, browser compatibility, and more.